How Fidelity Bank boosts nonprofits

Fidelity Bank employees

Before COVID-19 caused event cancellations, Fidelity Bank staff were busy volunteering at events held by the bank’s Community Partners members.

Beyond standing by its community for more than a century, Fidelity Bank supports nearby nonprofits through financial support, volunteering and specialized banking products.

By William Atkinson

One thing that sets Fidelity Bank apart from other banks in the New Orleans area is its commitment to the nonprofits based in the communities it serves.

The $1 billion-asset community bank’s Community Partners program provides financial tools and event support for more than 125 nonprofits, all of which are Fidelity Bank customers. The relationship-driven program is designed to equip these groups with the resources they need to succeed and, ultimately, foster a growing long-term community of nonprofits. And Community Partners is catching on this year.

“Earlier, we had about 60 nonprofits in the program,” says Tammy O’Shea, the community bank’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, “but the [Paycheck Protection Program] loan process brought a lot of new opportunities to our bank.”

At the foundation of these partnerships are things that community banks do best, including offering special financial tools such as Community Partners-specific checking accounts, debit cards and a full suite of banking products—everything these partner organizations need from a bank to operate, O’Shea says. The program also promotes its nonprofit members. “We include a monthly spotlight on our website and social media where we recognize one of the Community Partners each month,” O’Shea says.

Fidelity Bank also hosts various workshops for the program’s members on topics that are relevant to running nonprofits, such as grant writing and reading financial statements. The community bank relies on its own internal talent to teach many of these workshops. If it doesn’t have its own expert, Fidelity Bank partners with the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the North Shore Community Foundation of Covington, La., two local charitable groups that count the bank as an official member or partner.

Finally, the community bank provides members with an annual financial gift, which has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic this year.

As a model for the program, Fidelity Bank looked at its POWER, or Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Realized, initiative, a marketing effort aimed at women business owners. The community bank decided that it could put together a similar program that would take a similar approach of arming a specific group of customers with the tools and resources they need to succeed.

“We have always been involved in the nonprofit space,” O’Shea says. “We are chartered as a mutual [bank], and our mission statement is to be here for good, so we have always done a lot to benefit nonprofits, but we wanted to do even more.”

“[Community Partners] gives [members] a feeling that they have someone watching out for them.”
—Tammy O’Shea, Fidelity Bank

More than writing checks

How have Community Partner members benefited? O’Shea cites the example of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, which provides emergency grants to hospitality workers. “They had a lot of needs even before the pandemic, and, recently, we have been able to support them in a number of different efforts,” she says.

In June and July, the community bank created the POWER Plate campaign, an eight-week campaign focused on aiding women-owned restaurants. The campaign encouraged local residents to donate to the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation to help these restaurants. “As a result, everything we pushed out about the POWER Plate campaign helped the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation,” O’Shea says.

This year, 18 women-led restaurants and Fidelity Bank POWER members participated in the program with the goal of raising awareness and driving business to women-owned restaurants in the New Orleans metro, which was especially important during the pandemic. Each week, two participating restaurants were featured. Fidelity Bank randomly selected two winners from all of the sweepstakes registrants to win a $50 gift card each from one of the featured restaurants. Registrants could also choose to make a donation, in tribute to a female leader in the hospitality industry, that would support the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation. Fidelity Bank matched $2,500 in donations.

Fidelity Bank employees

Fidelity Bank staff contribute their time volunteering at the events of the bank’s Community Partners nonprofit members, such as this pre-COVID-19 event.

O’Shea says Community Partners members gain a sense of community through the program. “We have found that it provides them with a feeling of belonging in our bank,” she says. “We have a dedicated director of Community Partners, and his full-time job is to provide services to these clients. It gives them a feeling that they have someone watching out for them and someone in the organization they can call and get answers to their questions and concerns.”

Members also receive financial, educational and volunteer support from the community bank for their events. Due to COVID-19, many of these events have been cancelled, but if members reschedule them in 2021, Fidelity Bank expects to be very busy.

“We are working with these nonprofits to consider doing some different things other than community events until these events can be rescheduled,” O’Shea says. “In either case, we want our support to be boots on the ground, not just writing checks.”

William Atkinson is a writer in Illinois.